It all began with Julie Pinson’s audition to replace Martha Byrne as Lily Snyder. While Executive Producer, Christopher Goutman, and Head Writer, Jean Passanante, didn’t think Pinson, late of Port Charles (where she worked with Barbara Bloom) and Days, was right for Lily (the role went to Noelle Beck, whom Bloom also knew from her time at ABC), they were so taken with her reading that they created the role of Janet Ciccone. Or so the story goes.
Janet and her daughter Liberty, daughter of the late Brad Snyder, arrived in Oakdale in May 2008, and dominated the show’s landscape, along with a parade of Ciccone hangers-on, including Blackie, played by Pinson’s real-life husband, Billy Warlock. In that time, I don’t recall Janet or Liberty ever sharing a scene with a member of the Hughes family (couldn’t swear to that though, since I mostly watched with my finger on ff).
The Ciccone’s are said to be based on Passanante’s Italian-American family. She would have done well to have taken a look at how Douglas Marland introduced the Snyder’s, explicitly fashioned after Marland’s family, back in 1985, then followed his advice to: “build new characters slowly. Everyone knows that it takes six months to a year for an audience to care about a new character. Tie them in to existing characters. Don't shove them down the viewers' throats.”
But she didn’t. And Janet became Oakdales’s latest “vagina no penis can resist”; this time a redhead, among her nicknames on the boards: “Juicy Janet,” “Our Lady of the Plunging Neckline,” and, in a nod to her cooking prowess (her lasagna is said to be legendary), “June Cleavage,” (though I’m guessing June Cleaver was probably better known for her meatloaf than lasagna:). Makes you wonder about Jean Passananate's comment to Soap Opera Digest, "I kind of identify with Janet a lot, as an Italian girl from the Midwest."
Sometime this week, Janet will give birth to a baby, fathered by either Jack or Dusty (the betting’s on Dusty), conceived to provide bone marrow to treat Liberty’s leukemia, which apparently was cured months ago with chemo. Since this baby serves absolutely no purpose other than to cement Janet and Dusty’s relationship (nice to see that Dusty and Dr. John have stayed in touch, off-screen), while creating one, final obstacle for Carly and Jack, longtime viewers are still trying to figure out why this story is closing out the last days of the show, rather than, say, a proper goodbye to Nancy Hughes. I suppose it’s a good thing, keeping viewers wondering, even as the show ends. Funny thing -- at last month’s Paley Center farewell, Janet didn’t appear in any of the clips shown – not one! So, maybe Goutman and Passanante did finally get it – just too late to fix it.
And because soap opera is all about irony, as I was finishing this post, someone sent me this link – a poignant reminder of the way things were. Just make sure you have a box of tissues close-by before you click.
© 2010 Lynn Liccardo
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